Injuries from Swimming Pool Drains
Public swimming pools are required by law to be equipped with regulation drains that are well-maintained.
“When you get to a pool, residential or otherwise, you want to make sure that the drain cover is there; second that it’s the right kind of drain cover, an anti-entrapment drain cover, and third it is always good to tell your children and all swimmers to stay away from drains.” says Alan Korn, Executive Director of Abbey’s Hope; a foundation established in honor of six-year-old Abbey Taylor, who died nine months after a pool drain entrapment injury.
Entrapment occurs when a part of a swimmer’s body becomes attached to a drain of a pool. If a drain’s cover is missing or broken, a swimmer’s arm or leg can get stuck. Even unbroken drains can pose a threat. Fingers and toes – especially those of small children – can become lodged in the drain.
As the website dedicated to Abbey’s Hope explains, not too long ago, most pool drain covers were flat, which increases the risk of the aforementioned entrapment or entanglement hazards;
We’ve all put our hand over a vacuum tube when cleaning to check the suction. Pool drains act in a similar manner, except with up to 500 pounds of force. A flat drain, much like a small vacuum tube, can be completely covered by a body part. However, the excessive force makes it nearly impossible for a swimmer to release themselves from the drain.
The powerful suction of a pool drain has even been known to pull a person’s internal organs from their body.
Entrapment hazards from drains include:
- Body: the suction of the drain holds down the body due to sheer force.
- Hair: long hair becomes caught in a drain
- Limbs: arms, legs, feet, or fingers become lodged in a section opening of a drain.
- Objects: bathing suits or jewelry are entangled in a drain cover
- Evisceration: Suction of the drain draws out the intestines or organs.
Regulations for Safer Pool Drains
Back in 2002, the granddaughter of former secretary of state James Baker III, died after becoming entrapped by a swimming pool drain. By 2008, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act passed.
This is a federal requirement for public pools to adhere to stricter regulations that help to reduce the risk of drain entrapment and entanglement injuries.
One regulation includes the installation of a safer drain cover. A dome shaped, larger drain cover was designed to prevent suction injuries, as it is more difficult for the entire drain to be covered by a single body part-thus reducing the force of suction. In addition to a larger size, these dome-shaped drain covers often have smaller holes, which helps prevent jewelry or hair from being sucked into the drain.
Looking at the image above, the drain on the left is an example of a safer drain cover, while the drain on the right exemplifies the older, unsafe drain covers. Inspect pools to see which drain cover they use BEFORE your child begins to swim.
Swim Safely this Summer
If your child is playing in a swimming pool, it is important to inspect the drains before they get in the water. Take a look at the drains in both public and residential swimming pools. While it is required for public pools to have regulation drains, there are numerous community and residential pools that have not adapted to the new regulation.
Even if the pool has regulation drains, remind your kids that no drains are completely safe and that they should stay away from drains when they swim.
If your child has suffered a pool drain injury, disembowelment, and evisceration, or accidental drowning, contact a St. Louis premises liability lawyer as soon as practicable. Pool drain injuries can create astronomical medical expenses, and it is important to collect data right away to ensure that you are adequately compensated. Call Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers at 314.444.4444, or email us at email@example.com